Ratings are everything these days, especially online. We all like to rate restaurants, food, cities, websites, shoes, movies, men, women, dogs, cats… seems like life on the Internet thrives or dies over ratings. Sometimes thriving and dying in the same day, depending on the ratings.

Then there’s the overrated stuff, which can be your ticket to coolness as long as you recognize that when something is overrated, you dis it as too common, too much in your face, or just too trendy because everyone is into it. We want to be rebels, don’t we?

Underrated, on the other hand, feels like a secret club filled with people who know what’s in, what’s hip, what’s what, and like to keep it on the down low. Like that funky little bar you frequent, or a romantic spot near a lake, or that tiny pizza joint that puts fior di latte cheese on their pies. There’s a cool factor involved that you will never get with overrated stuff.

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What’s this got to do with poker? Quite a lot, actually. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, you understand that poker is 70% skill, strategy and knowledge, while 30% is luck. Of course, there are lots of factors in play – table position, number of players, everyone’s skill level, stack size. But you also need to know your hand rankings like the back of your… uh, hand. And it’s smart to understand your starting hand win percentage in order to recognize good and bad cards before playing at Ignition Poker. That’s like a safety switch protecting your bankroll.

Here’s the thing. Not enough poker players pay attention or even know about underrated hands and it’s the key to playing killer online poker less obviously. So let’s take a look at the 10 most underrated hands in hold’em poker.

#1: Suited Connectors

Even your lower suited connectors – like a 5 and 6 of hearts – can lead to a straight or a flush. Beware, if you only rely on solid starting hands, you’ll be eaten alive by blinds and antes as you fold hand after hand.

Look, the top starting hands come only so often. Your chance of being dealt a pocket pair of 10s for example is a little more than 2%. And, worse, you become an easy read. If you do a couple of aces and raise, everyone is going to fold.

You need to learn more about playing suited connectors so you can get your pot management under control.

#2: Pair of Jacks

The least rated and most controversial face card pair. Think about it like this: If you’re holding a pair of jacks, there are four aces in play somewhere on the table. Playing your jacks from a strong table position such as the button, the cutoff or highjack is a great hand to build a pot on. Other players may have a single ace and are likely stay in the pot hoping to hit.

Pot control is the key here and your pair of jacks may just do it.

Oy gevalt! You may think this is weak sauce, but your shot at a straight makes your 7 and 4 stronger than a lot of hands around the table.

This is the perfect hand to build the pot because the odds are that your opponents may have higher cards, which gives them some confidence to stay in the game. Position is everything here. If you’re late, you can manipulate the pot, especially with weak community cards, and see how others are playing. Knowing their style helps you assess whether to go forward before folding.

#4: Suited Jack and Nine

This oddity can end up creating a flush, a straight or a pair. Don’t fold right away. Reviewing your poker hands ranking chart before sitting down can help you stay in the game much longer.

Give your suited jack-nine a shot in every limited hold’em game. Be cautious with this hand in a no-limit game, you will need a lot to improve it.

#5: Suited Nine and Eight

Normally an average play or lower, but you have as much chance as an opponent with an ace-queen or ace-five.

Okay, this is not a hot hand to start, but it gives you a chance to build the pot because other players are likely to have at least one face card and feeling like the pot will be theirs. So build it and then slap them upside the head with a sneaky straight.

#6: Suited Gappers

Suited connectors will get you pumped but suited gappers can still lead to a great hand. The chance of landing the filler and the two more cards you need is almost precisely the same chance as getting the three cards you need if you’re holding suited connectors.

#7: Small Pair

They say good things come in small packages, but if you’re sitting under the gun, forget it. Sitting at under the gun+2? Open if you’ve got two fives and fold everything lower than that. But you can always can open-raise with low pocket pairs if you’re at the button or the big blind.

Defend your big blind low pair to close the pre-flop action so you don’t get squeezed out of the pot, and you’ll get a good price on a call. It’s all about position!

#8: Ace or King High

Don’t get too excited. With no pairs or a chance for a straight, this is not recommended. This is far lower than underrated.

Most of the time, you should fold with ace-five or king-four, because any pair (see #7) or many other hands will beat you.

However, in head-to-head Hold’em, the majority of hands are beaten by a pair or simply a high card.

#9: Suited Cards

You’re looking at a 10 and a 2 of spades. What now? You’re only hoping for a flush or a flush draw. Now you’ve got leverage to pressure your opponents or stay in hands you wouldn’t usually keep.

Remember that when the flush comes and the action heats up, you can still lose to a bigger flush. You have to develop the discipline to fold on the flop. Underrated hands with potential are a good choice to defend the big blind. Because if someone raises small and you can complete the bet in the big blind, you can gamble and hope for an exciting flop. If it misses, it is easy to trash your hand.

#10: Offsuit Seven-Deuce

Just kidding. This one’s not underrated, it’s garbage. Probably the worst hold’em hand you can get. You cannot make a straight, or a flush, and any two pair you make are too weak on almost any table.

Learn how to play (or not) these 10 most underrated hold’em hands and you could be building your bankroll before anyone else notices.